Who am I to disagree? That’s what they say right. If you get this, you’ll be happy. If you make this much, you’ll be happy. If you have the big house on the hill with the family, you’ll be satisfied. Better yet still if I get this promotion and make it to retirement, just a little longer and I’ll finally be happy… So the story has always gone.
Think about that just for a second. We who are whining millennials who are so emotional, so needy, and so afraid to work a twelve-hour shift, five days a week for twenty years. We’re soft, aren’t we? How dare we question the root of happiness that our grandparents fought and died for. What ungrateful masses we must be. However, that’s the question that lies at the heart of it. Are we all of those things and ungrateful to boot?
We are blessed like no generation before us in the whole of human history. We live longer healthier lives than any humans before us. We have more choice and more possibilities in every part of our life than anyone before us. Those of us born into western civilization live in the most prosperous civilization ever. Those of us born in the United States, even more so. Yes, compared to our grandparents we are more apt to express our emotions and opinions in open public forums and with strangers than they were. We question the status quo more than they did. We are not contempt to live a forty hour work week while paying a mortgage and raising a family all at the age of twenty-two.
While there are plenty of extreme cases of millennials living up to this stereotype, there are plenty more using these qualities to develop their sense of self. We are the most accepting and technologically capable generation yet. Born of innovation and nursed on old and new ideas. While I am dismayed so many have taken to socialism, I know in time they will be just as disillusioned as those born and raised in former Soviet republics. We must find our own voices that will define our generation much like those of the roaring 20s and the greatest generation of the 30s and 40s. We question many things long considered accepted including the ideas of belonging and happiness. However, that is the root of humanity. To question, to poke and to prod. Change is the only constant in life. While it is not always a positive, it can, in the long run, lead to a positive. We must be given time to figure out what will become of us. While at the same time we must remember that the emotions we are claimed of continually wearing on our sleeves must not lead us there. They should act as guides to help us better understand ourselves or others. We cannot and we must not, let them lead us, because being overwhelmed by emotion has never led to a lasting or competent nation. What lies ahead of us is the enormous task before every generation. To shape the world as only we can and to figure out who we are. I have no fear of the world ending in my lifetime, even if I spend it acting differently than those who came before me want me to. As for my children’s generation and the fate of the world after me, I leave that entirely up to them.
Happiness is not a goal; it is a by-product.
– Eleanor Roosevelt